Woulda coulda shoulda.
Big Tunas can have regrets, too, and former Patriots coach Bill Parcells — who is known to stick to his guns — is now admitting that his hard-line stance as he left New England after the 1996 season was not the best choice.
“I regret leaving New England,” Parcells told USA Today during an interview that looked ahead to his Aug. 3 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Had we done things differently.… I had a good, young team there. I hated to leave that team, because I knew what we could do. I was absolutely too headstrong. And [owner Robert Kraft] might have been a little headstrong, too. I think both Kraft and myself, retrospectively, would have done things a little differently.”
Parcells and Kraft had a messy split after Parcells took the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996, with the two publicly jabbing at each other throughout the run-up to the game. The source of the rift was mainly personnel control, with Kraft — a relatively new owner — sparring with Parcells over who had the final call on player moves. Kraft also did not like Parcells being on a year-by-year contract with the team.
Kraft has said he learned from the rocky relationship. The Patriots were better off for it, too, with Parcells’ departure eventually opening the door for Bill Belichick to coach. But that doesn’t mean that Parcells and Kraft haven’t ever wished for a mulligan.
“At a Super Bowl, Bill was standing there as I approached, and he just said to me, ‘If I had to do it all over again, I would have done things differently,” Kraft said, according to USA Today. “And I said, ‘So would I.’ It would have been pretty special. We were just coming at it from different times. And so much in life is timing.
“But in the end, we have a great relationship today. I have great respect for him. He did a great deal for our franchise, and I will forever be grateful for that.”
While the Patriots have had success since Parcells’ departure, Parcells never advanced beyond the championship game round in his final two coaching stints, with the Jets and the Cowboys.